Surrounded by families, friends and flashing phones and cameras, St. Petersburg College’s summer 2012 graduates filed out of the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks Saturday.
Approximately 300 SPC graduates participated in the college’s 119th Commencement Exercises. The college had more than 1,200 graduates this semester, according to SPC graduation organizers. Many received associate of arts degrees while others earned bachelor’s degrees in areas ranging from international business to nursing. About 2,000 people – among them proud parents, friends, siblings and children – attended the event along with SPC faculty and staff.
SPC President Bill Law congratulated the students and their families on their achievements both during the ceremony and in a letter printed in the graduation program. “You’ve invested much in your education; now, take pride in the contributions you will make to your professions, families and communities,” Law said in the letter.
Graduates heard words of advice and encouragement from two commencement speakers. Deniann Grant, who will be transferring to the University of Florida, served as the former president of the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus’s Student Government Association in 2011-12 and the Chief Executive Officer for the transitional team of MYRA (Make Your Radio Active) Radio Network. Juan Otazu, a retired master sergeant who served in the U.S Air Force for 24 years, graduated this semester from SPC with a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
“Here at SPC there’s a place for everyone,” Grant told the crowd, explaining how the college offers an affordable education for thousands of students from a variety of backgrounds. Attending SPC, she said, allowed her to grow as a person and a leader.
“It’s passion not a pedigree that will win in the end,” Otazu said in his speech. Speaking about his own experiences to earn his degree, he had the audience laughing and clapping as he told them not to be afraid to start from the bottom and to persevere as they moved forward in life.